This Small Company Could’ve been Google Today

Choose your success metrics wisely!

In 1997 – when Google was still called BackRub – Larry Page and Sergey Brin were figuring out how they could convince a company to implement PageRank into their search technology.

The founders had no intention to build Google into a giant that it is today. They just wanted to head back to Stanford and finish their PhDs.

The closest they came to a deal was with a small search-based company called Excite.

However, when the CEO saw Google’s search results – which were much more useful than it’s own and not gamed by “keyword stuffing” – he was surprisingly upset.

“If Excite were to host a search engine that instantly gave people the information they sought, he [CEO] explained, the users would leave the site instantly.

Since his ad revenue came from people staying on the site – stickiness was the most desired metric in websites at the time – using BackRub’s technology would be counterproductive.”

Steven Levy, ‘In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives’

The issue here was very psychological.

Instead of solving for user’s problem, Excite was focused on optimizing their attention on the platform.

Always choose your metrics around building the best product!

Photo Credits: Rajeshwar Bachu/Unsplash